Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, Kathleeen Verratti and Robert Verratti's Grade 3 winner Independence Hall got acquainted with Gulfstream Park during a sharp half-mile breeze Sunday ahead of a scheduled start in the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28.
The 69th running of the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby for 3-year-olds anchors a blockbuster program featuring 10 stakes, six graded, worth $1.825 million on the final Saturday of the 2019-2020 Championship Meet.
With trainer Mike Trombetta's assistant and former jockey Sarah Shaffer aboard, Independence Hall went four furlongs over a fast Gulfstream main track in 48.31 seconds, ranking seventh of 67 horses at the distance.
It was the fifth work for the son and grandson of Florida Derby winners Constitution (2014) and Cape Town (1998) since suffering his first loss in four career starts when second to Sole Volante in the Sam F. Davis (G3) Feb. 8 at his winter base of Tampa Bay Downs.
The connections were particularly pleased with the way Independence Hall took to Gulfstream in his first spin over the surface, as well as the way the Kentucky-bred colt continued on in his gallop out.
“Mike was very happy and Sarah executed the plan to precision. Sarah thought that Independence Hall really appreciated the surface at Gulfstream this morning,” Wellman said. “It's a mixture of dirt and sand compared to what he's been on all winter at Tampa, which is pure sand. Sarah was of the opinion that he got a hold of this surface better than how he's been handling Tampa. That's no knock on Tampa's surface – it's a great surface and he had a really good winter there. With the big goal being the Florida Derby right now ahead of us, we're pleased to hear that Sarah believes that he really bounced over this surface nicely today.
“I thought that the body of the work itself was very, very sharp and just what we wanted to see, especially for a young horse like him going by himself,” he added. “I thought from the wire to the mile-pole and then from the mile-pole to the seven-eighths I thought it was probably the best part of his work. He really started to find his stride and it seemed like he had a lot of energy galloping out, and that's exactly what Mike was looking for this morning six days out from the Florida Derby.”
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